How people live in the time of corona?

“Outbreak of coronavirus and quarantine have left negative impacts on lives of most families,” says 33-year-old Moqadas, who lives with a family of six members in Kabul.

Ms. Moqadas—along with her daughter—is living in her parents’ house as her husband is out of the country. As a surgeon, she used to work at private hospital but after the city was hit by the fatal pandemic of Covid-19, and as her aging father needed especial look-after, she found herself bound to leave her job and look after her father.

Under a prevention strategy, late in April this year, the Afghan government announced lockdown in major cities and later the Afghan education authorities announced that all schools and universities will remain shut until next notice.

Moqadas’ siblings and her daughter, who are students of high school and university, have to stay home and attend online classes.           

Staying almost idle in long summer days causes stress and anxiety, according to her. She believes that the long quarantine period has left an irritating impact on people who have nothing very special to do and nowhere to go but stay at home. With outbreak of corona and imposition of quarantine, irritability and violence have increased in my family and that is because everyone is worried about each other’s health and there is a mental pressure on everyone, says Moqadas.

Yunis Zaki, a sociologist, says that ever since Covid-19 outbreak and quarantine, most family members have gotten more time to spend with each other. He is of the opinion that wealthy families maintain good dealings under isolation but those families that are under financial burden have a difficult time.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and its subsequent crisis have brought stress, tension and fear among a large number of population in the country. It has left a devastating impact on livelihood and lives of poor segment of the society.     

“I never spent a whole day at home without having a specific plan to follow. I was mentally affected by the outbreak and quarantine,” says 32-year-old Hadi, who lives in a family of six members. He used to run a business before the outbreak of coronavirus but had to close his business as the city was hit by the pandemic.   

“There was time when we wouldn’t even meet or talk to each other in family,” he said. “Before the outbreak, we had family gatherings at least twice in a month. We would come together to recite poems, sing, and dance but it has been more than three months we haven’t had any gathering,” he explained.

The 28-year-old Tamana, who lives in a household of eight members, tells a similar story. “Quarantine hit me so hard that sometimes my frustration was out of control and I couldn’t help to have a normal conversation with my family members, which made me feel bad, guilty and depressed.”

She has a five-year-old nephew and a 13-year-old niece, a sister, her brother with his wife, and her parents. Tamana and her brother have to go to office three days a week. During the outbreak and quarantine, five members of Tamana family including her were infected by coronavirus. Tamana believes that she is an introvert who usually spends time alone in her room. She thinks that with outbreak of coronavirus and quarantine, she doesn’t have space to take rest, sit alone, or do her works. My family is very calm and quiet. Therefore, we would usually get together during the lunch, dinner, or tea time. But after five members of our family were infected, we stopped meeting each other and talking to one another. Everyone has isolated themselves in their rooms which affected my nephew and niece the most. They miss their parents, but cannot meet or talk to them. They keep searching for excuses to complain and cry, she explains.

Zulmai Shinwari, a psychologist, says that since the start of outbreak and quarantine, the number of mental illnesses have increased. Most of his patients are aged 20-50. According to him, his patients mostly complain about insomnia, stress and depression.

The pandemic coronavirus hit Afghanistan. Most big businesses remain shut, though the government has not lifted lockdown, small businesses have reopened in the capital. According to latest official figures announced by the country’s ministry of public health, as many as 34,605 Afghans have tested positives for Covid-19, 1,038 Covid-19 patients have passed away and 21,280 have recovered.

The actual number of death toll caused by Covid-19 is said to be higher than official record.